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You ask someone for their favorite band, and you'll get several different answers. You ask someone about their least favorite band, and you'll learn fast that everyone hates Nickelback. Creed may be a close second, or maybe Insane Clown Posse, but time and time again, Nickelback is the butt of every joke and backward compliment. "Your band sucks, but it sure as hell ain't Nickelback."
But is that fair? There plenty of awful bands out there. Why does this one get the most hate? Because it occupied radio waves for years? Because of the quality of the songs? Because of how easily one can make fun of the lyrics? Why does everyone hate Nickelback?
Tone is instrumental to a good song. The music has to hit that right pitch – the right notes, the right sound – to draw emotion. While some bands put out similar sounding music from time to time, more often than not their music at least captures some feeling.
Consider Metallica's "One." The song transitions from a melancholy, almost fearful feel to one of anger and rage into chaos into melancholy again. The music reflects the contents of the lyrics. When the lyrics are meant to be sad, they are sad. When the song is supposed to be intense, it gets intense.
Or, perhaps, compare two different songs. Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" compared to "Immigrant Song." Nothing at all alike. Same band, but different songs require different music.
Every good band does this.
Now take any of Nickelback's songs.
...you've heard one. You've heard them all. The rifts are the same. They use the same music regardless of the lyrics. The only different may be that they go a little slower. With one or two exceptions, their songs are all like this.
Then again, maybe the music doesn't matter because...
"LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH!"
Yes. I am looking. And?
Okay, so that now-infamous line aside, the lyrics to most Nickelback songs range from either generic to obtuse nonsense. In an era where songs either went edgy or superficial pop, Nickelback had among the least sincere lyrics to any song ever. It is telling when Linkin Park and the rest of the nu-metal scene had more emotionally nuanced lyrics than any of Nickelback's music.
What do I mean by insincere? Let's consider the following.
Heaven's gates won't open up for me
With these broken wings I'm fallin' and all I see is you
These city walls ain't got no love for me
I'm on the ledge of the eighteenth story
And, oh, I scream for you come please,
I'm callin' and all I need from you, hurry, I'm fallin', I'm fallin'
These lyrics suck. Allow me to explain.
In a few lines, the band trivializes fallen angels, suicide, and legalized oppression in a song about love helping a person grow up. These lyrics do not relay emotion. They relay the illusion of emotion. They are used to conjure feeling where there is none by, like a robot, approximating what humans typically respond to.
These are but a few lines throughout a song full of cliches of this nature. The problem with this is that it just comes across as stupid.... and then finds a new way to be even stupider.
And all their songs trivialize real issues. They use simple, digestible language in order to relay real emotions, but, like a child crafting song lyrics for the first time, they fail to realize that lyrics, like poetry, need to be carefully designed to conjure feeling in the listener.
All that is bad enough, but what makes it worse is that, for at least five years – half a decade – you couldn't run away from them.
Bad enough bad music is on the radio. Shock of all shock – some music sucks. But what makes it worse is when it's on a ton of stations, all over the place.
I think the real reason why so many people hate Nickelback, on top of the previous reasons, is that, for awhile... they were everywhere. Shirts in Hot Topic. Every mall and store. It played those lyrics in that same, generic tone. It sounded like a constant stream – a bombardment – of that same, generic noise. Over and over again. It was like having your ears cleaned out with roughly-bound rope.
Eventually, you can only take so much pain before you get angry.
And, after getting angry... it just gets worse.
They Are Stereotypes Of Their Own Genre
There are many reasons to hate Nickelback when it comes to their lyrics and their singing, but if you ask most people, the biggest issue is that they are a walking stereotype. They are so good at following the stereotypical cornfed country-rock blend, they basically became the genre in all its good and bad sides.
Simply put, they are so generic that they don’t have a sound of their own—which is precisely their sound. This tends to leave most audiophiles pretty flat.
Their Sound Is Played Out
Here’s the problem with Nickelback’s sound: it’s old, but not classic. You can identify elements from a bunch of different kinds of rock bands. There’s a Southern Skynrd twang to the music (they’re from Canada), they’ve got a little grunge (they’re too clean to be grungy), and there’s just...blandness throughout it.
Nickelback’s sound is so stereotypical, it’s old. Old doesn’t work unless it’s classic, which means it sucks. It’s really hard to feel like Nickelback’s sound is novel or edgy, when it sounds exactly like what you’d expect your 45-year-old Aunt Gertie to play when she’s trying to be “with it” among her teenage kids.
A Trashy Vibe
Look, I don’t want to be that person, but Nickelback is exactly what you’d expect someone to listen to while driving a tractor, wearing a Von Dutch hat, and maybe using tobacco dip. It’s really, really just trashy—and not just because they talk about “Playboy bunnies with the bleach blonde hair.”
It’s basically the music equivalent of taking a trip Sausage Castle in Orlando, back in its heyday. No one wants to be seen there, even when they’ve been there. Understand what I mean?
The Overprocessed Sound
It’s clear that somewhere, deep down in there, Nickelback had a bit of grunge in their music vibe. One of the reasons why everyone hates Nickelback is because their music literally sounds like a bunch of suited record executives just waltzed in, smiling, and tore away all the genuine grit they had—then repackaged it for consumption.
People are already sick of seeing commercialized music on airwaves. The slimy mix of overpackaged music mixed with heavy smatterings of payola-style playing made Nickelback the most reviled band in recent history.
The last reason we’re going to cover is the most obvious. Part of the reason everyone hates Nickelback is that everyone else hates it. It’s a band that is so uncool, your taste in music is immediately devalued once you admit you like it. That being said, it’s really suspicious that they’re still selling so many albums and concert tickets despite everyone “hating” them...